Carroll County Times

Offense struggles again as O's drop fourth in a row

HOUSTON - The Baltimore Orioles are in a genuine offensive funk. For the second straight night, they scored just two runs and didn't take advantage of excellent performances by starting pitchers.

On Friday night, Miguel Gonzalez was superb. He allowed two runs in the seventh. But before that, he gave up just one hit in the first six. The problem was the Orioles had just five hits. And with that largely to blame, they lost to the surging Houston Astros 2-1 before 38,482 at Minute Maid Park.

Baltimore (26-27) lost for the fourth straight game and dropped under .500 for the first time since Apr. 22 when it was 9-10.

Houston (24-32) won its seventh straight game. That's its longest winning streak in nearly four years.

"It's a combination of them playing well and us not doing what we're capable of doing," manager Buck Showalter said.

The Orioles scored their only run off Brett Oberholtzer (2-6) in the second. Adam Jones led off with a double and scored on a one-out single by J.J. Hardy.

Gonzalez (3-4) held the Astros hitless for 5 1/3 innings, Jose Altuve got an infield hit, stole second, but held there while Dexter Fowler walked and Jason Castro flied to center.

In the seventh, Matt Dominguez led off with a double. With one out, Alex Presley singled. Dominguez held at third on Nick Markakis' throw home, but Presley tried to advance to second, but was thrown out by Caleb Joseph.

Robbie Grossman doubled to score Dominguez, and came home on Jonathan Villar's ground-rule double to give Houston a 2-1 lead.

Gonzalez pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits, walking two and striking out four.

Oberholtzer allowed one run on four hits in seven innings, striking out one.

Baltimore didn't draw a walk until Kyle Farnsworth walked Joseph with two outs in the eighth. That was their first walk since the fourth inning of Wednesday's game.

After Markakis singled off Tony Sipp, Chad Qualls retired Steve Pearce on a fly ball to left, ending the eighth. Qualls pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his fifth save.

Baltimore's approach at the plate hasn't been working in its last three games, but it's a hard one to change, Showalter said.

"You can't be aggressive and passive at the same time. You're trying to be, we've scored five runs the last three games. You tip your hat to the other pitcher, but we're capable of better," Showalter said.

WIETERS TESTS ELBOW: Matt Wieters, who has been on the disabled list since May 11, tested his injured right elbow before Friday's game. Wieters threw about 25 times to bench coach John Russell and said there was no pain.

"I felt better. It's kind of progress each day and see how it feels. We'll just keep progressing and see how it feels," Wieters said. "Definitely felt like it had some life back in it. I felt a lot more fresh. Of course, I hadn't thrown for three weeks, so it's to be expected. We'll start each day with a fresh slate and see how it goes each day.

"We're just going to try and keep progressing and see where it takes us."

Wieters will rest on Saturday and is planning to throw again on Sunday.

ALL-STAR GAME IN 2016?: The Orioles applied to host the 2016 All-Star Game in Jan. 2012. And on Friday night, commissioner Bud Selig gave the strongest indication yet that the game could return to Baltimore.

"When you think back, Camden Yards really started this whole ballpark expansion, and I believe that's one of the primary reasons for baseball attendance being at the historic high that it is today," Selig said. "Yes, they're certainly a very, very viable candidate."

The game was held in Baltimore in 1993, and Selig, who leaves office next January, has to pick sites for two more All-Star Games before he retires.

"I have great feelings for Baltimore, and I know they have [applied], and I just got done with the '15 All-Star Game, and I know I have to do '16 and '17," Selig said.